Jump Start # 2648
Judges 16:21 “Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.”
Poor Samson. Once the strongest man of all, in our verse, is bald, blind and bound in a Philistine prison. The path that took him there was painful. Painful on the inside as well as on the outside. Humiliated. Mocked. Eyes gouged out. Unable to do anything about his situation. And, one can just hear ole’ Samson saying, “How did I get in this mess?”
But, couldn’t the same be said today?
- Sitting in the school principal’s office, waiting for parents to show up is a kid who has just been suspended. How did I get in this mess?
- Sitting in the back seat of a police car, in handcuffs, how did I get in this mess?
- A man driving home late at night having spent time with another woman. The deception, lies and cover up that has lead to all of this. How did I get in this mess?
- A person who has just spent an hour with the shepherds of the church. They are forced to withdraw fellowship because he will not repent and change. How did I get in this mess?
For Samson, as well as for us today, it was four steps that lead to a head-on crash.
First, he did what he wanted to do. He wanted to marry a Philistine woman. His parents advised him not to. He didn’t listen. He wouldn’t listen. God’s word was very plain about this. He wouldn’t listen to that either. His stubborn heart got him into trouble. That’s the first step. Pride. Selfishness. Unwilling to listen—to God, to parents, to godly advice. We make up our minds that we want something and nothing, not even the Bible will change us.
Second, he hung around the wrong people. There are three times in the Judges text where Samson is with Philistine women. The he-man had a she-woman problem. And, when you hang out with Philistines, you’ll do what Philistines are doing. The foreign wives of Solomon turned his heart, even though he was one of the wisest one in the Bible. You will never be strong hanging out with weak people. You’ll have a hard time being godly when you are always with ungodly people. This isn’t rocket science, yet, so many do not get this. Their ties to old friends in school, and worthless family members clouds their eyes to how they are being influenced. Their spiritual heart is dying and they do not even see it.
Third, he disobeyed God. Samson committed adultery. Samson married someone outside the nation. Once you start disobeying God, the floor drops out and you are on a steady decline. Angry, gambling, breaking his Nazarite vow, are just more of the issues and sins that surrounded Samson. How did he get in that mess? He didn’t follow God closely. And, when you don’t consequences come. Some come immediately. Some come eternally. God says what He does for a reason. Following God keeps us well, safe, healthy and of good mind. Bald, blind and bound are were the result of disobeying God. He knew. He just didn’t do it.
Fourth, he became weak and enslaved. This happened physically. But it happened spiritually, first. He lost his strength. He lost his vision. He lost his freedom. And that happens to all of us when we do not follow God. Not being strong, one makes choices that are based upon the here and now. Decisions are wrapped around what is fun, rather than what is right. Once we have lost our vision, our perspective changes. The spiritual and the eternal are replaced with this world. We no longer see what is wrong with things. And, then the addiction and enslavement to sin takes place. Habitual becomes our sins. Stuck on the merry-go-round of wrong, we can’t seem to find a way out. And, downward we spiral. Attitudes stink. Choices are wrong. Language rude and offensive. We start taking on the world more and more.
For some, they will die this way. Trying to convince themselves that they are having a time of their lives, they hide the pain of not knowing God and not knowing what will happen to them in eternity. Lost, and many do not even know it.
But for some, they get that spiritual wake-up call in their conscience. The prodigal did. The pigs were enough. No more. He came to his senses and he came home. Even our Samson did. He prays that God will triumph. He doesn’t ask God to spare his life. He wants to bring justice upon the wicked Philistines who have mocked God.
And, for all his failures and sins, the name Samson is found in Hebrews 11 among those who gained approval by faith. Most of us, if we were allowed to put names in Hebrews 11 would have left Samson out. Too much baggage there. Too many problems. Too many bad decisions. We’d toss ole’ Samson on the hill of rejects and failures. It’s easier for us to classify him as a failure than to see him among the saved. We’d make him the poster child of what not to do.
But, God say something different. God saw a heart that believed. God saw a child that wanted to do right. And, by faith, God opens the doors of Heaven for one like Samson. He’s certainly not the darling that we’d expect God to welcome in. However, it’s not perfection that saves us, but faith and God’s grace. And, could it be that there is yet one more lesson from Samson? He reminds us that we too can make it. We’ve stumbled and fumbled all along and much too often we doubt that we’ll make it. We bowed when we should have stood. We have been quiet when we should have spoken. We made a mess of things too. Rather than tossing in the towel and giving up, there’s Samson. He made it. You can make it. Keep doing what you know is right.
Who among us has not made a mess of things in the past? We’ve said things to our dear family that we should never have spoken. We’ve had a hard time forgiving and letting go. We’ve complained and fussed about life. We’ve not prayed enough. We’ve looked the other way when we could have done more. How in the world do we have any chance of Heaven? And, there stands Samson. We’ll make it the same way he did. God’s grace and our faith—that combination is powerful.
Bald, blind and bound—that’s how the Philistines saw Samson. He was in their trophy case of losers. But in the eyes of Heaven, Samson is a hero. God didn’t give up on him and He’ll never give up on you.
How did I get in this mess? Something to think about.